Get in check

In November, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released a new set of guidelines for blood pressure in the United States. Here’s the latest on those guidelines, and where to get your blood pressure checked in California:

The new guidelines

The general rule of blood pressure remains the same: the lower the better. But, under these new guidelines, standards for high blood pressure have changed.

Now, anyone with blood pressure of 120/80 to 130/80 will be considered elevated and those over 130/80 will be considered to have hypertension — or high blood pressure.

There are also levels within this new high blood pressure classification. Blood pressure of 130/80 to 139/89 is considered stage one hypertension, 140/90 is stage two, and 180/120 or higher is considered hypertensive crisis.

Medical professionals say these classifications will help with treatment. For example, someone with stage one hypertension may be prescribed a certain diet or an exercise regimen while someone in hypertensive crisis will be given immediate treatment and possibly hospitalized. 

Am I part of the 46 percent?

Under the old guidelines, only one in three adults in the U.S. had high blood pressure, but with these new standards more than 46 percent fall under the classification — so it is possible that you’re now considered to have high blood pressure.

But there’s no reason to panic, especially if you fall under stage one. There are plenty of ways to lower your blood pressure over time, from exercising more to cutting down on your salt intake.

Drinking less and adding more potassium to your diet from foods like bananas can also help lower blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends their DASH diet to lower blood pressure and reduce risk of stroke or heart failure.

Haven’t checked your blood pressure in a while?

With more than 4.2 million people now classified as having high blood pressure, it might be a good time to check your own. Most grocery and drugs stores have machines where you can check your blood pressure, but you can always talk with your doctor if you are concerned.

Over time, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and organs and lead to kidney failure or stroke, so it’s best to stay on top of it and take action if it becomes high.

Read more about the new blood pressure standards.

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